I have been clumsy all of my life and somewhat inept at ball games – deficient motor skills are not uncommon in people with Aspergers. A consequence of poor motor skills identified by many parents of kids with Aspergers is bad handwriting and often a reluctance to write at all.
I have good handwriting but it was not always so. I was taught to write as a child but my writing bordered on illegibility. When I was about to go to University my father convinced me that in order to have my essays read I would need to be able to write legibly the real clincher was the argument that expecting tutors to mark illegible essays was discourteous. Not long after I started at university I discovered an English translation and facsimile of Arrieghi
- The First Handwriting Manual. Having mastered the ability to write – needless to say I became almost obsessional – I bought books by Alfred Fairbank
and George Thompson amongst others, many books. I bought pens, fountain pens, dip pens, calligraphic felt tips, inks, calligraphic paper. The great thing about the obsession is the practice I got before the obsession eventually wore off.
The trick to good handwriting is to take your time and accept that you may need to take longer than other people, be patient. I became adept because the right triggers were fired, my hatred of bad manners, my desire to communicate and because my interest was fired. I don't think I would have been able to have developed the skill earlier because I saw no need to. If you want your child to learn to write you need to find the right hook. Perhaps illuminated manuscripts may inspire or graphic designs, I was inspired by Arrieghi
but hooked by need. Good handwriting is a useful and desirable skill but by no means essential in today's world. If you want your child to write make your child want to write, we all have our triggers find your child's. Awkwardness may deter a child from writing the only cure is practice but there are many aids to help with handwriting– laminated practice cards, special pen and pencil grips, shaped pens and nibs, specific left-handed writing implements, stencils – many of which I still find useful. Above all – as I have said – be patient. If your child won't write in the meantime let them use a keyboard most people do nowadays. Personally I find typing is no easier than writing but there are very good dictation programs for the PC like Dragon Naturally Speaking that remove the need to type once they have been trained to your voice.
What is true of writing is true of other motor skills. Patience is key, if we can accept that we may take longer and allow ourselves the time we need we can produce acceptable results in most things. Some skills like hand to eye co-ordination may never come – for some they will – but taking things slowly and carefully can offset clumsiness. The art to improving motor skills is patience and practice. Take your time and also construct strategies that make tasks easier. Use gadgets where you can find ones that will do the job. There are many kitchen gadgets that reduce the need to use sharp knives, these are very useful. Food processors cause less mess than whisks and mixing bowls. Rubber sink mats can prevent broken dishes, better still are dish-washers. People may argue that we should learn the basic skills but personally I think sometimes it's better to be realistic and use whatever we can to get the job done.
If all else fails get someone else to do a task. Employ a secretary or even a virtual assistant for typing and office tasks or operate a skill exchange with someone – their dexterity for your knowledge, mathematical skills, or whatever. At the end of the day does it matter how you get the job done as long as it gets done integrity intact?